The laws governing child support in Maine are different from that of other states. ME child support law sets how much the child maintenance should be, and the duration of such payments, plus it seeks to guide parents in exceptional cases such as deviation, support for disabled children, and retroactive support.
As you may already know, child support (or child maintenance) is a continuous monetary payment made by a spouse to another spouse, guardian, caregiver, or the state for the upkeep of children after a divorce or separation.
The person who is required to pay child support is referred to as the “obligor,” whereas the person who is eligible to receive child maintenance is referred to as the “obligee.”
What are ME Child Support Laws?
In Maine, there are three considerations used to determine child support:
1) the Legislature-established Maine Child Support Guidelines, which are based on the total income of both parents; 2) The cost of the child’s health insurance, if applicable; and 3) The child’s childcare expenses if any.
The total of those three figures is used to calculate the amount of child support owed, with each parent contributing their fair share of the sum according to their share of the parties’ combined income.
Regardless of the parties’ salaries, only the parent who provides a kid with their primary residence is qualified to collect child support from the other parent. If the parties’ salaries are roughly equivalent and they share a primary residence, child support will not be paid.
What does Child Support Cover in Maine?
Maine’s child support payments are intended to provide for the child’s basic requirements, including food, clothes, and housing, as well as any significant medical expenses, like medical insurance.
The standard Maine child support order may include a supplement for these expenses.
Child Support When One Parent Lives Outside Maine
To enforce child support orders beyond state boundaries, each state has to have the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) in place. Maine is no exception.
The UIFSA ensures that child support processes and procedures are consistent across states. When one spouse lives in another state where the Maine courts do not have authority to adjudicate or enforce orders, UIFSA reduces these bottlenecks.
As a result of the UIFSA, a ME child support attorney can take legal action against a spouse who now lives in another state to enforce a child support order.
How is Child Maintenance Calculated In Maine?
To calculate child maintenance, Maine uses the “Income Shares Model,” which requires a judge to estimate how much each parent spent on the child when they were a unitary family.
The total is then divided by the respective incomes of the parents to determine the total amount of assistance. Based on their respective income shares, each parent will be responsible for a portion of the overall support obligation.
Parent A would be accountable for 60% of the maintenance amount (600 divided by 1,000), and Parent B for 40% of the maintenance amount, for instance, if Parent A earns $600 per week and Parent B earns $400 per week (400 divided by 1,000).
Maine Child Support Calculator and Worksheet
While a child support calculator can be used to estimate child support, it is not a guarantee of the final amount of child maintenance that the judge will order. A child support worksheet is a form used by the ME courts (or negotiating spouses) to approximate the basic child support obligation of the parents.
Regardless of which approach you use, spouses can decide on a child support sum and amend the worksheet accordingly to ensure it accurately reflects their agreement. Both establish a presumption duty to pay child support.
The final decision on the amount of child support is made by the administrative law judge, administrator, or court.
Gross Income Included in Calculating Child Maintenance
For child support calculation purposes, gross income includes:
- all wages and salary, including commissions, military pay, tips, overtime, and bonuses
- self-employment income
- interest and dividends
- net rental income from property the parent owns
Even jobless parents are likely to have some sources of income, like:
- severance pay
- unemployment benefits
- retirement benefits
- veterans’ benefits
- disability benefits, or
- workers’ compensation awards.
A ME family court judge may also allocate an income value to parents who do not currently have income-earning employment (like a second house). If a jobless parent inherits assets that can be sold, for instance, the judge may include the property’s market value as a part of such parent’s income.
Where parents willfully go unemployed or underemployed in order to avoid paying child support, judges may infer (assign) income based on what they are supposed to be earning.
Net Income for ME Guidelines
Remove the following costs from the total gross income to get the parent’s net income for paying child support in Maine:
- Social Security taxes, or any mandated retirement plan contributions if the parent does not pay those taxes.
- Income taxes, both federal and state (based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one exemption)
- union dues
- The ME court has ruled the parent to pay the child’s health and dental insurance premiums, as well as additional medical bills.
Parents who have already paid child support for another kid or children (from a previous relationship) may be eligible for a refund.
Is Medical Health Insurance Part of Child Support in Maine?
Yes, in addition to the amount of support determined by the guidelines in Maine, the parents will be responsible for the child’s health and dental insurance.
Whereas the noncustodial parent is presumed to provide coverage, this can readily be transferred to the other parent if it makes good sense.
For instance, suppose the custodial parent’s employer offers healthcare insurance for the dependent but the noncustodial parent does not.
Factors Maine Courts Consider Before Ordering Maintenance
The following factors must be considered by the court when determining whether Maine Family Code applies:
- The age of the child and needs; the parents’ ability to assist
- Financial resources available to the child
- For a set period of time, you have custody and access to a child.
- An increase or decrease in the obligee’s earnings or income due to the obligee’s property and assets
- Child care expenses incurred by either parent in order to keep a job
- any other children under the care of either party
- Any other children under the care of either party
- What kind of alimony or spousal maintenance is being paid or received;
- Obligor or obligee receives an automobile, house, or other benefits from his or her employer or business entity.
- The parties or the child’s special education, health-care, or other expenses
- The cost of traveling to obtain custody of and access to a child.
- Cash flow from any estate and assets, including real estate, personal property, and business property, can be positive or negative.
How to Challenge or Modify Child Support Order
A party in Maine that wants to modify a child support order must file a motion to modify with the court, claiming that there has been a significant change in circumstances that supports revising the current order.
It would be impossible to identify every scenario in which a substantial change in circumstances can occur here because what exactly qualifies as a substantial change in circumstances can differ significantly from instance to case.
Nevertheless, as a general principle, the Court will find a substantial change in circumstances and modify the order if the situations that led to the initial child support calculation have changed in a certain way that would cause a new child support calculation to be 15% higher or lower than the current order.
Steps to Collect Child Support in Maine
Getting a child support order in place is only half the struggle in Maine. You’ll also have to collect the money itself. A noncustodial parent is responsible for paying the full amount of child maintenance per month as imposed by the court. Here are the steps for getting child support in ME
1. Open a Child Support Case
Complete a child support application with your local child support agency/office
2. Locate the Other Parent
To begin the child maintenance procedure in ME, the child support services (CSS) office will use the information provided by the applying parent, as well as information gathered from other sources, to try to locate the other parent.
3. Establish Parentage
It’s critical to establish a legitimate relationship with the child when the other parent has been located. The state will assist you in locating the sufficient means. Parents can choose to acknowledge their parentage voluntarily or organize a genetic screening.
4. Establish a Child Support Order
A Maine child support order specifies how much the other parent should pay and includes details such as the payment schedule and provisions for the child’s health insurance.
5. Set Up Payment
Deducting child maintenance from a parent’s paycheck and transferring the money to the other parent or guardian is the most typical method of payment. It’s a simple way to make and track child support payments.
6. Enforce the Support Order
Your ME child support services will enforce the child support order if the noncustodial parent does not pay the full amount or does not pay any. Exposing overdue child support payments to credit bureaus, intercepting income tax refunds, and Withholding child maintenance from unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits are examples of other enforcement measures.
7. Review the Order
Three years after the order is issued, either parent can request their local child support office to revise it. They can ask for a reassessment sooner than three years if a parent’s situation has changed significantly, such as loss of employment or imprisonment.
Maine Child Support Services Office, Number and Login Portal
- Child Support Services, Division of Support Enforcement & Recovery (DSER)
Address: 11 State House Station, 19 Union Street
Augusta, Maine 04333
Phone: (207) 624-4100
Fax: (207) 287-2334
Retroactive Child Support Arrears in ME
DHHS may still be able to deduct money from your paycheck if you are more than 30 days late on your child support payments and there is no enforceable Immediate Income Withholding Order. DHHS may send you a Notice of Debt if you fall behind on court-ordered maintenance. The total DHHS estimates you owe will be included in the Notice of Debt.
The consequences of not paying child support orders in Maine can be very dire. This penalty may include placement of liens on property, income garnishment, revocation of licenses, intercepting state and federal tax returns, and being held in “contempt” of court by judges.
If you feel the arrears are being demanded wrongly, you can learn how to get child support arrears dismissed HERE.
How to Pay Child Maintenance in Maine
In Maine, parents can pay child maintenance in a variety of ways, as long as your order doesn’t state otherwise:
- by debit or credit card,
- bank transfer
- direct deposit
- income withholding, or
- auto-draft from a bank account.
How to Check your Child Support Payment History in ME
When there are disagreements between the parents and a need to confirm how much money is owed, child support payment records are extremely beneficial.
Click here for full details on how to check your child support payment history in Maine.
When Does Child Support End in Maine?
In Maine, the child support obligation typically expires when a child gets 18 years old. If a youngster is still enrolled in high school or if exceptional circumstances exist, the court may extend the requirement until the child turns 19 years old, becomes married, or joins the armed services
Nevertheless, if the judge determines that the child is disabled (physically or mentally), the child can receive support perpetually.
Is Child Support Tax Deductible in Maine?
NO. In Maine, child support payments are neither taxable to the recipient nor tax-deductible by the payer as stated by the IRS. Don’t include child support payments when calculating your gross income to see whether you have to file a tax return.
However, either parent may be eligible for a dependency exemption per child. If the parents can’t agree on who receives the exemption, the judge will set out the terms in a court order.
Getting a Skilled Maine Child Support Attorney
If you are involved in a family law matter in Maine, you may have a lot more questions than answers at this moment. You are not alone; Correspondence with members has shown that using the services of specialized child support attorneys saves a lot of hassles and most importantly, ensures you come out as a winner for you and your kid.
If you need to fight your child maintenance cause in ME with confidence, then you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.
Luckily, we have compiled a database of these expert child support lawyers and made them available for the convenience of our members. You can reach them at the click of a button for legal advice and representation on child maintenance.
- Maine Child Adoption Guidelines
- Maine Childcare Guidelines
- Maine Child Custody and Visitation Guidelines
- Maine Child Support Guidelines
- Maine Divorce Guidelines
- Maine Marital Property Guidelines
- Maine Spousal Support Guidelines
- How to Check Maine Child Support Payment History
- Maine Child Support Calculator
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